The past is the present for future generations who do not know their history

Murray

A 1930 Isbell family reunion photo…

shows descendants of Levi Isbell at the 1930 family reunion at the Isbell home on Main Street, Albertville, Alabama. The home was later demolished but stood on the court house square across the street from the court house. Levi Isbell was the brother of our James Isbell. Levi Isbell married Sarah “Sallie” Birdwell and James Isbell married her sister Elizabeth Birdwell. James and Elizabeth Isbell are my third great-grandparents on my Murray line. The Murrays who married Isbells moved from around Paint Rock and Larkinsville in Jackson County, Alabama sometime between 1865-1870 to Colbert County, then Franklin County, Alabama.

1930 Isbell Reunion at home of Levi Isbell


Precious are the memories…

even if only in the form of a photograph. Lee Murray and Buddy Jackson have shared information and this photo on our shared Murray lines. My third great-grandfather, John M Murray, and his parentage is still a brick wall for all of us researchers. But it seems in the electronic age that more sharing is possible without travel. John M Murray was one of the north Alabamians who joined with Andrew Jackson in the fight with the native Americans in the Creek War (often referred to as the War of 1812). The most famous battle remembered from that conflict is the Battle at Horseshoe Bend.

John M Murray died at Vance’s Station according to his obituary. He was 99 years of age at death. He had survived several wives and had more than one set of children. His last wife was Jane Pierson/Pearson who was much his junior. She drew a widow’s pension from his war experience. One of their sons was named Marshall Winchester Murray. The photo below shows possessions of John M Murray and others that belonged to his son Marshall. The powder gourd, hunting horn, wooden box and shoe repair belonged to John Murray.  The rest belonged to his son Marshall.  The wooden box is cut out of a single piece of wood with leather hinges.  He kept his tax papers in it. This photo of their treasures means as much to me as does the plug of tobacco that was left by my great-grandfather, Levi Murray.

Photo of John M Murray and Marshall W Murray possessions


So there are people other than me working on family history…

and a nice surprise came in my email today. Family researchers on collateral lines to my Murray family are now participating in DNA research as well. One of them sent me this photo of a railway ticket that one of our ancestors bought in 1863. A cousin in Birmingham has the original. It is a ticket that James T Murray purchased in 1863. He died that same year. He died while serving as a  the War Between the States as did his brother-in-law, John Lawrence, He was but 30 years old. He left a wife and five young children, among them a set of twins.

James T Murray was a son of John M Murray who fought with Andrew Jackson in the Creek War aka the War of 1812. John M Murray was my great-great-grandfather on my paternal side. James Thomas Murray served in the same Company during the War Between the States as did the husband of his sister Sarah Ann Rebecca Murray Lawrence (John Lawrence).  John Lawrence died while being held prisoner of war at Rock Island Prison in Illinois. They both died in the year 1863 and both widows applied for and received Confederate Widow’s pensions. Both served as a Private in Co D of the 6th Regiment of Alabama Volunteers, CSA.  James Thomas Murray’s  wife was Jane Wood Dowdle. His children were: Sarah Elizabeth Murray Lawrence 1854 – 1935, John Robert Murray 1856 – 1938, Mary Jane Murray Wood 1860 – 1928  . William Moore Murray 1860-1904, and David Jefferson Murray 1862-1948. Mary Jane and William Moore Murray were the twins.

Photo of an 1863 railway ticket issued to James T Murray

related posts:

https://rememberingtheshoals.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/bang-bang-bang-again/


World War II enlistment record for James Arlander Murray…

U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 about James A Murray

Name: James A Murray
Birth Year: 1923 [he was born in 1924]
Race: White, citizen (White)
Nativity State or Country: Alabama
State of Residence: Alabama
County or City: Colbert
Enlistment Date: 12 Feb 1942
Enlistment State: Georgia
Enlistment City: Fort Oglethorpe
Branch: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Branch Code: Branch Immaterial – Warrant Officers, USA
Grade: Private
Grade Code: Private
Term of Enlistment: Enlistment for the duration of the War or other emergency, plus six months, subject to the discretion of the President or otherwise according to law
Component: Army of the United States – includes the following: Voluntary enlistments effective December 8, 1941 and thereafter; One year enlistments of National Guardsman whose State enlistment expires while in the Federal Service; Officers appointed in the Army of
Source: Civil Life
Education: 1 year of high school
Civil Occupation: Semiskilled welders and flame cutters
Marital Status: Single, without dependents
Height: 67
Weight: 140

We never thought we would hear from them again…

Map of McClain County, Oklahoma.

Map of McClain County Oklahoma

now did we? And we did not hear from them, but some of their relatives have provided enough information to fill in the blanks.

William Deaton Jackson Murray and Susan Anna Isbell Murray’s son William Jackson Murray just seemed to disappear off the face of the earth. When that son and his wife left the area, he said he would never be back and I guess he never did return.  William Jackson Murray married Lelia Florence Jeffries in Colbert County, Alabama  on 27 March 1892 when she was eighteen years old. She was born 14 March 1867 in Tuscumbia, Colbert County, Alabama and died  15 January 1967 in Wayne, McClain County, Oklahoma. She is the daughter of Andrew Jackson “Jack” Jeffreys 1848 – 1908 and Mary Susannah “Susan” Downs 1850 – 1910. Her parents also moved to Oklahoma and there they died. Lelia Jeffries was one of almost a dozen Jeffries children.

A note of interest on Jack and Susan Jeffries, he was born in Marion County, Alabama; she was born in Mississippi but her parents moved to Alabama when she was very young. They lived in Lawrence County, Alabama for a number of years. But on the 1900 census they were listed as living at Township 2, Chickasaw Nation, Indian Territory. Andrew Jackson Jeffreys died 29 September 1908 and is buried in Foster Cemetery at Foster, Garvin County, Oklahoma. By 1910 the remaining family members  were in Doughtery, Murray County, Oklahoma where Susan Downs Jeffries died. She was the head of the household and her daughter Methel Jeffries was living with her. She was 59 years old, was widowed, and had nine living children of eleven children born to her. She died a little over three months after the 1910 census had been enumerated.

It is uncertain when the William Jackson Murray family left for the west. No record of them could be on the 1900 census. But by 1910 they were in McClain County in Oklahoma. And there they remained until death. There was some disagreement between William Jackson Murray and his family; it seems that maybe they had said they would go west with them and then changed their minds. The parents never heard from him as long as they lived.

Lelia and William Jackson Murray raised a large family of children  in Oklahoma. Their children were: Edward D Murray 1893 – 1972, Benjiman A Murray 1897 – 1975, Marvin G Murray 1897 – 1967, Ludie Bell Murray 1899 – 1995, Cecil Velmer Murray 1900 – 1988, Bonnie Murray 1903 – 1950, Clarence S Murray 1907 – 1953, Hazel Gladys Murray 1909 – 2001, Ira Eugene Murray 1911 – 1911, and Vera Evelin Murray 1912 –  .

A photo of Lelia Florence Jeffries Murray, some of her children and grandchildren in McClain County, Oklahoma

Lelia Florence Jeffries Murray and some of her children and grandchildren in McClain County, Oklahoma

 


Norwoods are plentiful…

in Lawrence County, Alabama especially in the Moulton area, but there are not as many as there were in the mid 1800s. William Mitchell Norwood’s father by the same name died in Lawrence County in 1850. He left a large number of descendants behind. Many of them wound up in Colbert County, Alabama. Actually, since the county lines shifted, they may not have moved at all.

William Mitchell “Billy” Norwood in this photo is important to many Shoals area and northern Alabama people. He is important because he is of the Norwood clan that came from the Carolinas to settle in the southern Tennessee and northern Alabama areas. Many will know, or will discover, they are kin to him and his descendants. A photo of his sons will follow in the next post.

William Mitchell "Billy" Norwood

William Mitchell "Billy" Norwood


Here is a doll…

as the photograph clearly shows.

This is a photograph of a doll.

This is a photograph of a doll.

Most of the time a doll for my mother and her sisters were sticks from a tree that had a fork to them. There would be no head or arms, just two legs. But that was enough to spark Mother’s and Ellen’s and Preston’s imaginations. Since their dresses and drawers were made of the hard to come by flour sack material that Mama would fashion into pretty little things for the girls from pictures in the Sears & Roebuck catalogs (that served a dual purpose), there were no scraps of materials to use to clothe the dolls. So, they improvised with whatever was available to ‘dress’ their dolls. I wish I had asked if they were pretend baby dolls or pretend fashion dolls, but I think I know the answer to that for they always lived out in the boonies and likely never saw fashion in anything. I do recall that mother said once that when Mama told her it was her fourth birthday and Mother asked if her birthday could walk because she equated birthdays with the calendar on the wall. The calendar always had a picture of a pretty girl on it. So she figured birthdays could walk, unlike her stick doll.

Mother and her siblings grew up during the first great depression. Times were hard. Very hard. When the girls were lucky enough to come across a passion-flower they would create the most beautiful colorful doll in the world. Mother always loved purple, so I am quite sure this was very pleasing for her. The siblings would pluck the flower with as long a stem as possible as those were the doll’s legs. Then they would pluck off certain parts until there was a head and two arms. The purple fluffy and flowy part was the skirt. They pretended the doll was a dancing doll. I always called them a ballerina, but I did not remember to ask them if they thought that – likely not as Mother never had a hamburger until she was grown and they had moved to town so it is just as likely that they never saw a ballerina until grown either.

To this day, I have never witnessed anyone who could play a game of Jacks as well as mother. My jaw dropped to the floor at her skill level and dexterity when she played with us when we were little. No doubt they played this game when they were little, too. But not with store-bought Jacks, just rocks and whatever they could use for a bouncy ball.

Didn’t we have it good when we were growing up compared to most of them in that generation?


Four generations of Hillard…

are featured in this photo taken in 2009. Hillard Murray was born in Sheffield and lives in Colbert County. Hillard has two children: Tim and Patty. The photograph shows Hillard with son, grandson and great-grandson. Hillard is one of the subjects of a prior story published on Remembering the Shoals.

Four Generations Of Hillard Murray

Four Generations Of Hillard Murray

 
Related posts:

Hello Soldier, I am your brother…

Hillard and this is our little sister Alice.

Somehow it was always Alice who got into trouble, perhaps it was because Hillard just wouldn’t agree to punishment. Alice was in charge of seeing that her young brother got home in a timely manner from school – and herself for that matter. That must not have been an easy task because so much seemed to peak his interest. That particular afternoon the  trek home from the schools across town seemed particularly harrowing for Alice.

Hillard MurrayShe recounted the story of that afternoon and it seemed a movie was playing in her head as she relived the events of that unforgettable day. It was a day in early September of 1945. She was but nine years old, or almost for her birthday was in December. She was exasperated with her brother because she was sure that he would get her into trouble with his lollygagging.  After all the past is prologue.

Something had caught her brother’s attention further down the sidewalk in downtown Sheffield that particular day. He hurried to the store down the street.  I am sure she must have tapped those little feet and let out a few breaths of aggravation as she insisted that they go on down the road toward home; he refused to budge. Hillard later said it was a soldier with an Army duffel bag going down the street and then into the store.

When they reached the grocery store just a few blocks before the train tracks, Hillard stopped dead in his tracks. His little nose was pressed against the windowpane of the storefront window. Alice must have thought aloud and asked, what now?

World War II had just ended. Then, Alice noticed there was a soldier in there. The soldier was drinking a Coke. Alice noticed Hillard’s gaze go up to the soldier’s mouth  (and his little nose go up on the windowpane) as the soldier lifted the Coke bottle to his mouth, and then down as he lowered the bottle and its precious contents to the table again. Again. Again. And again. Alice nagged at him to come on,  let’s go home; but to him she was all but  invisible. All that mattered was that Coke bottle and the path it took from table to mouth, from mouth to table.

But then, she noticed something else. Maybe it was the soldier’s gold tooth that had her brother in awe of the young man in uniform. Not that the little boy and girl were not patriotic, but a Coke was a rare and precious commodity, and so was a gold tooth – a real genuine gold tooth. Gasp.

Of a sudden the little boy bounded forward and entered the store. She was caught unaware. She fumed as she considered that Hillard might have a nickel in his pocket. A nickel would buy a Coke, but just one.  She steamed that, dern, she didn’t know where he would get them but it seemed that Hillard always had a nickel in his pocket. A child with a nickel was exceedingly rare in those hard times that came on the heels of the Great Depression and a world war that had just ended. So, she drug her feet and went in after him hoping that he would just come on home with her and before she was to get into trouble because of his precociousness.

After entering the store, her brother continued to watch every move that the soldier made; every breath the soldier took. I insert here that I can all but tell you what happened next. That soldier asked the little boy, “What are you doing, Jabbo?”  The little boy was watching the soldier’s every breath; the sister was watching what would without a doubt be the little brother’s last breath. That was a certainty and an all but done deal.

Her brother made a query of the object of his intense study. He asked, “What is your name soldier?” The soldier answered, “James Murray.” The little boy said, “Soldier, I am your brother Hillard and this is our little sister, Alice.” Now, anyone with one eye and half-sense could predict what was to happen next.

Little brother and sister remembered for a lifetime the thrill of that day. Their mother had died when Alice was just a little girl and Hillard not much older. James Murray was but fifteen and the oldest child when his mother died. There was another brother, Ed Lee, who was the second oldest child.

Hillard and Alice recalled that their brother got them a taxi cab and they went shopping. Hillard and Alice recounted that, “He bought us everything.” Hillard stated about the day and the length of time it took to get home from that point that James must have known everybody in the town. It must have seemed like the whole entire town talked to and welcomed their big brother back home.  I don’t think anyone got in trouble that day for getting home late from school. To this day Hillard states that James was his hero. Much too late to ever tell him, I discover he is my hero, too.


Mother…

is a two-syllable word that means so much to so many people. But that one little word has the ultimate importance once the person that owns that name is gone.

Sue Burden and I were talking after she had lost her mother in January of 2007. She stated, I am now an orphan. Imagine that, being an orphan when you are our age. I did not comprehend the profoundness of that statement at the time. We had both already lost our fathers and that was hard, mighty hard. Hard. I. Say. She went on to state that losing Daddy was hard, but losing her mother seemed harder; she questioned if it was harder because now she felt like an orphan. She said she no longer ‘belonged’ to someone; there was no one left that ‘had’ to love her no matter what. Others could choose to love her, but they were not commanded or required to do so, like a Mother.

Mother

A handmade gift from my daughter

I did not learn the aptness of the statement until just nine months later, I too would be an orphan. Mothers have such power and do not even know it. Think about it. A child can divorce a spouse; but a child can not ‘divorce’ a mother. Mother is the first to hold a child at birth. Mother is the one that mends broken hearts. Mother is someone a daughter looks up to when little; someone she just can not get along with in the tween and teen years; someone who is a built-in babysitter when the daughter becomes a mother herself; and the one the daughter strives not to become like, until at a certain age the daughter decides that she is her mother after all. And, hopefully, does not feel that to be a bad thing. It is then that a daughter and mother become best friends forever.

But then comes the time when Mother does not exist anymore except in the hearts of the ones she loved and sacrificed for most of her life. And, yes, Sue was right; is right. Maybe it is because we both lost our fathers first, but for some reason at the loss of our Mothers we both have the ‘orphan’ syndrome. Or maybe it is because Mother could take little pieces of nothing and make something to be cherished out of it – like the pillow she cross-stitched for my daughter about how a Grandchild is special. Before she gave it to my daughter, her first great-grandchild was born and she added to the cross-stitch “and Great-grandchildren, too.”  Maybe it is because as my colleague said, you KNOW who your mother is and that creates a bond stronger than steel. Afterall, it is a scientific fact that when soldiers fall on the battlefield, the one they cry out for is Mother. As an aside, could that be why the military forces the servicemen/women to write back home to Mother first?  And losing Mother is not easy to get through. Maybe it is not something you get through but something you have to endure. Either way, it is hard.

The cross-stitched Mother with flowers and butterfly was stitched just for me by my daughter. I have kept it for a lot of years now. I think that little item, along with a little white satin heart-shaped pillow that had Mothers are Special stitched on it are my best-loved treasures from her; with the exception of the diplomas and degrees that she earned and the obvious exception of  my grandson.

Now I understand Roy Acuff‘s song from long ago titled “Will the Circle be Unbroken“.  I believe that Sue would agree with me that Roy Acuff felt like an ‘orphan’ on that day, at least he conveyed it in his strong presentations of the song. The lyrics make this lonesome plea…

I was standing by my window on a cold and cloudy day
When I saw the hearse come rolling to carry mother away
Will the circle be unbroken by and by Lord by and by
There’s a better home awaiting in the sky Lord in the sky

I said to the undertaker undertaker please drive slow
For this lady you are hauling oh I hate to see her go                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Will the circle be unbroken by and by Lord by and by
There’s a better home awaiting in the sky Lord in the sky

I will follow close behind her try to hold up and be brave
But I could not hide my sorrow when they laid her in her grave
Will the circle be unbroken by and by Lord by and by
There’s a better home awaiting in the sky Lord in the sky

Went back home and home was lonesome since my mather she had gone
Found my brothers sisters crying what a home so sad and lone
Will the circle be unbroken by and by Lord by and by
There’s a better home awaiting in the sky Lord in the sky

On the next article, there will be a photo of my mother and Sue’s mother to honor them. They were best of friends just as Sue and I are best of friends now – and have been all our lives.

This poem was given to me many years ago by my daughter as well:

God made Mothers 
God knows that children always need someone to show them the way;
A special  someone warm and kind to care for them each day...
He knew that children need someone compassionate and wise
to teach them how to walk and talk and sing them lullabies...
God knew that children always need a love beyond compare
tohelp them in so many ways, to understand and care 
- and that is why  
God made Mothers.